Friday, March 07, 2008

Mis-handled handling

I just interviewed Jim Shephard, president of Shephard’s Industrial Training Systems, for the next "Lift Truck Tips" column in Modern. We got to talking about how materials handling equipment is sold and how sometimes the salespeople are as clueless as their customers about the application of equipment in the customer’s environment.

For any materials handling sales transaction to be truly effective, the salesperson needs to know as much as possible about the customer’s policies and procedures—as well as its safety record—if that transaction is to result in a successful application. That means doing a materials handling assessment to find out which processes in your plant aren’t in synch with your people.


Where lift trucks are concerned, if an assessment isn’t done, specifications may not match up well with the process. This may result in overcapacity or turning radius problems.

What is the primary job for the lift truck? 55% of that lift truck’s life may involve one task. Once that’s determined, then you break down other tasks by percentages. You may find the lift truck you’re using is not designed to do some of those tasks.


Problems begin when your operators try to fit that square peg into the round hole that is your operation. That’s when operators start bending rules to get the job done. Even if the operator complies with proper operating procedures 93% of the time, that remaining 7% could result in a problem that explodes in your face because of an injury or significant product damage.


If a mis-applied piece of equipment or technology forces an operator to change a good material handling technique to a bad one to handle the product, it’s not the operator’s fault. Shephard told me he’s had five calls from attorneys in the last few months, looking for an expert witness associated with fatalities involving lift trucks. Jim’s doing his homework on these cases. Are you doing yours to avoid being the next one?

Originally Posted by Tom Andel, Modern Material Handling.com on February 21, 2008

Industries: Lift Trucks and Accessories, Materials Handling Mechanization, Services and Best Practices
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